Famously, we are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Cavort with swearing spitting knee slappers and you will find these elements in your behaviour. Whine with the whiners and suddenly even that which used to give you pleasure will be robbed of goodness. Hang with thrill seekers and you will find yourself pushing the envelop. Swim-bike-run with people and suddenly 7-12 hours of constant motion sounds normal. We are influenced in an organic way by the people we spend our time with. This is a strange truth and rendered stranger during the covid-19 pandemic as who we can spend time with has shifted. 

I find I spend time with podcasters, they accompany me on walks and runs and while the conversation is mostly unidirectional I can always respond in my own ways as I journal, reflect, ask questions, and whatnot (it is a far cry from sharing a cup of coffee with these folks but it is what I have, besides I read that Eugene Peterson used to pencil Dostoyevski into his calendar three times a week). One such podcaster recently used the line wealth is the company we keep.

His point, I imagine, is that a life without friends, family, and lovers, is not the life any of us are made for. Even the monks and nuns mostly live in community. To be alone is to be poor in a meaningful manner because we all need love.

A life with the wrong friends and lovers is an underprivileged one as well. 

There is a poverty involved in isolation, we all need friends, sometimes we need them for concrete help (food, babysitting, rides to job interviews or medical appointments), and at other times so that we feel understood and known and connected—the literal shoulder to cry on. The people we spend time with help us experience a sense of rootedness and belonging, at the best of times they help us feel loved, there are feelings we all must feel or else we are lost, impoverished in a deep way. 

Like many men I have very few friends, and even fewer that go deep. I appreciate the ones I have got and I tend to be picky about them because I believe what I said at the start of this little blogpost, that people influence us in subtle yet powerful ways. I must admit I am poor at maintaining them and reaching out as often such relationship need.

Still, if the people around us bring us wealth in the sense of wellbeing rather than financial (though I know there is much to say about the importance of connections and community to help us through the difficult upheavals life can throw at us and how a strong social network can keep people off the streets etc.) then who can better fulfill this than the resurrected Christ?

We call him the living word and we call our faith a living faith and he is the one who knows us most deeply, always has. 

He is the one who loves us most, always has. 

He is the one who is willing to die that we might have life, always has. 

For some folks the idea that God is watching and all-knowing is a big-brother sounding threat that leads to alarm bells going off. 

That is to misunderstand. 

God knows us deeply, it is a promise. 

Ever felt alone or unimportant or unloved, not-good-enough, smart-enough, sexy-enough? God was there with you and would not have you believe those lies. He would say you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Made in the Divine image and worthy of dignity, respect and even a sort of reverence. 

I have found a lot of wealth in having spiritual friends, people who will ask me deep questions and listen, people who will point me to biblical truth and to God’s work in my life, and who will share what they are learning from the scriptures about God. 

I have also found wealth in speaking time with the Living Word as one of my 5. I spend time in the bible, in prayer, in meditation, seeking the very presence of God and the experience of being known, understood, and loved. There are people in my life who do this, and do it very well, they help me recognize God at work in them and in me. 

Do you have space in your circle of five for God? He would love to be invited into your life. 

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